REED London and the Promise of Critical Infrastructure

Diane Katherine Jakacki (diane.jakacki@bucknell.edu), Bucknell University, United States of America and Susan Irene Brown (sbrown@uguelph.ca), University of Guelph, Canada and James Cummings (James.Cummings@newcastle.co.uk), Newcastle University, United Kingdom and Kimberly Martin (kmarti20@uguelph.ca), University of Guelph, Canada

Alan​ ​Liu​ ​has​ ​called​ ​upon​ ​digital​ ​humanists​ ​to​ ​think​ ​more​ ​critically​ ​about​ ​infrastructure​ ​-​ ​the​ ​“social cum​ ​technological​ ​milieu​ ​that​ ​at​ ​once​ ​enables​ ​the​ ​fulfillment​ ​of​ ​human​ ​experience​ ​and​ ​enforces constraints​ ​on​ ​that​ ​experience” (Liu, 2017).​ ​Liu’s​ ​invitation​ ​comes​ ​at​ ​the​ ​moment​ ​when​ ​researchers​ ​involved​ ​in large-scale,​ ​long-term​ ​projects​ ​are​ ​shifting​ ​focus​ ​from​ ​remediation​ ​and​ ​the​ ​creation​ ​of​ ​digital incunabula​ ​to​ ​transmediation​ ​and​ ​the​ ​development​ ​of​ ​systems​ ​that​ ​support​ ​sustained​ ​discourse across​ ​ever-morphing​ ​digital​ ​networks,​ ​when​ ​we​ ​are​ ​recognizing​ ​the​ ​potential​ ​for​ ​“dynamism​ ​of​ ​the base​ ​or​ ​serialized​ ​form​ ​of​ ​the​ ​text—the​ ​state​ ​in​ ​which​ ​it​ ​is​ ​stored—as​ ​opposed​ ​to​ ​dynamic​ ​modes​ ​of presentation” (Brown, 2016: 288)​. ​REED​ ​London​ ​is​ ​one​ ​such​ ​project​ ​with​ ​a​ ​polyvalent​ ​dataset​ ​that​ ​spans​ ​over​ ​500 years’​ ​worth​ ​of​ ​archival​ records, ​embracing​ ​from​ ​the​ ​start​ ​the​ ​need​ ​to​ ​establish​ ​a​ ​stable, ​responsive production​ ​and​ ​presentation​ ​environment​ ​primed​ ​for​ ​use​ ​by​ ​a​ ​wide​ ​range​ ​of​ ​scholarly​ ​audiences. Thus​ ​we​ ​find​ ​that​ ​we​ ​are​ ​immediately​ ​testing​ ​those​ ​infrastructural​ constraints. ​In​ ​this​ ​paper, members​ ​of​ ​the​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​project​ ​team​ ​will​ ​address​ ​the​ ​challenges​ ​we​ ​face​ ​as​ ​we​ ​develop​ ​and implement​ ​a​ ​framework​ ​that​ ​trains​ ​us​ ​to​ ​think​ ​about​ ​our​ ​collected​ ​data​ ​in​ ​relation​ ​to​ ​much​ ​larger networks​ ​of​ ​disparate​ ​resources​ ​and​ ​user​ ​needs.

REED​ ​London​ ​develops​ ​from​ ​a​ ​partnership​ ​between​ ​the​ ​Records​ ​of​ ​Early​ ​English​ ​Drama​ ​(REED) and​ ​the​ ​Canadian​ ​Writing​ ​Research​ ​Collaboratory​ ​(CWRC). ​Together​ ​we​ ​are​ ​establishing​ ​an​ ​openly accessible​ ​online​ ​scholarly​ ​and​ ​pedagogical​ ​resource​ ​of​ ​London-centric​ documentary, editorial, and bibliographic​ ​materials​ ​related​ ​to​ ​performance,​ ​theatre,​ ​and​ ​music​ ​spanning​ ​the​ ​period​ ​1100-1642. With​ ​support​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Andrew​ ​W.​ ​Mellon​ ​Foundation​ ​and​ ​a​ ​CANARIE​ ​Research​ ​Software​ ​Program grant,​ ​a​ ​team​ ​of​ ​researchers​ ​in​ ​the​ ​digital​ ​humanities​ ​and​ ​performance​ ​history​ ​from​ ​the​ ​U.S., Canada,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​U.K.​ ​are​ ​building​ ​a​ ​stable,​ ​extensible​ ​editorial​ ​production​ ​and​ ​publication environment​ ​that​ ​will​ ​create​ ​new​ ​possibilities​ ​for​ ​scholarly​ ​presentation​ ​of​ ​archival​ ​materials​ ​gathered from​ ​legal,​ ​ecclesiastical,​ ​civic,​ ​political,​ ​and​ ​personal​ ​archival​ ​sources​ ​in​ ​and​ ​around​ ​London.​ ​The REED​ ​London​ ​project​ ​combines​ ​materials​ ​from​ ​three​ ​printed​ ​REED​ ​collections​ ( Innsof​ ​ Court, Ecclesiastical​ ​ London​,​ ​and​ Civic​ ​ London​ ​ to1558)​,​ ​the​ ​prosopographical​ ​material​ ​from​ ​REED’s Patrons​ ​ &​ ​ Performances​ ​ (P&P)​,​ ​the​ ​bibliographical​ ​materials​ ​of​ ​the​​ Early​ ​ Modern​ ​ LondonTheatres (EMLoT)​ ​​database,​ ​and​ ​in-progress​ ​and​ ​planned​ ​digital​ ​collections​ ​focusing​ ​on​ ​London​ ​area performance​ ​spaces,​ ​most​ ​notably​ ​the​ ​Globe,​ ​Rose,​ ​and​ ​Curtain​ ​theatres​ ​and​ ​Civic​ ​London 1559-1642.

REED​ ​is​ ​an​ ​internationally​ ​renowned​ ​scholarly​ ​project​ ​that​ ​has​ ​worked​ ​to​ ​locate,​ ​transcribe,​ ​and​ ​edit evidence​ ​of​ ​drama,​ ​secular​ ​music,​ ​and​ ​other​ ​communal​ ​entertainment​ ​in​ ​Britain​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Middle Ages​ ​until​ ​1642.​ ​Since​ ​1979​ ​REED​ ​has​ ​published​ ​twenty-seven​ ​printed​ ​collections​ ​of​ ​transcribed records​ ​plus​ ​contextual​ ​materials.​ ​REED​ ​has​ ​long​ ​recognized​ ​the​ ​importance​ ​of​ ​online​ ​access​ ​to​ ​its resources,​​first​​ with P&P​​​ and​​​ EMLoT​, ​​and​​ more​​ recently​​ with ​​the ​​born-digital​​ collection​ Staffordshire​. REED​ ​has​ ​wrestled​ ​with​ ​the​ ​balance​ ​between​ ​what​ ​was​ ​once​ ​considered​ ​its​ ​“core”​ ​print​ ​publication activities​ ​and​ ​“adjunct”​ ​digital​ ​efforts,​ ​in​ ​the​ ​process​ ​migrating​ ​its​ ​data​ ​across​ ​a​ ​succession​ ​of programs​ ​and​ ​formats​ ​from​ ​Basic​ ​and​ ​dBASE​ ​to​ ​TEI​ ​P5​ ​XML​ ​and​ ​MySQL (Hagen,​ ​MacLean,​ ​and​ ​Pasin, 2014).​ ​REED​ ​has​ ​developed​ ​its digital​​ resources ​​in​​ ways ​​that​​ complicate ​​integration ( P&P ​​​exists ​​in​​ a ​​Drupal​​instance;​​​ EMLoT ​​​was built​ ​in​ ​a​ ​version​ ​of​ ​Django​ ​that​ ​is​ ​now​ ​out-of-date;​ ​ REED​ ​Staffordshire​ ​was​ ​lightly​ ​tagged​ ​in​ ​TEI​ ​and relies​ ​on​ ​EATSML for entity management, an​ ​XML​ ​format​ ​used​ ​by​ ​the​ ​Entity​ ​Authority​ ​Tool​ ​Set​ ​(EATS)​ ​for​ ​serialisation​ ​of​ ​its​ ​data).​ ​The​ ​components​ ​of​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​must​ ​therefore​ ​first be​ ​made​ ​intra-operable​ ​before​ ​they​ ​can​ ​become​ ​interoperable (Jakacki, 2016).​ ​The​ ​partnership​ ​with​ ​CWRC supports​ ​broader​ ​adoption​ ​of​ ​standards​ ​for​ ​TEI​ ​text​ ​markup,​ ​RDF​ ​metadata​ ​specifications,​ ​and named​​ entity ​​aggregation,​​ most ​​immediately​​ with ​​the ​​ingestion​​ of ​ EMLoT ​​​and ​​the​​ printed ​​​ Inns ​​ of Court​​ ​collection.

CWRC​ ​is​ ​an​ ​online​ ​infrastructure​ ​project​ ​designed​ ​to​ ​enable​ ​unprecedented​ ​avenues​ ​for​ ​studying the​ ​words​ ​that​ ​most​ ​move​ ​people​ ​in​ ​and​ ​about​ ​Canada.​ ​Built​ ​with​ ​funding​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Canada Foundation​ ​for​ ​Innovation,​ ​the​ ​CWRC​ ​platform​ ​supports​ ​best​ ​practices​ ​in​ ​the​ ​production​ ​of​ ​online collections,​ ​editions,​ ​born-digital​ ​essays,​ ​anthologies,​ ​collections,​ ​monographs,​ ​articles,​ ​or bibliographies,​ ​and​ ​supports​ ​the​ ​inclusion​ ​of​ ​visual,​ ​audio,​ ​and​ ​video​ ​sources (​About​ ​CWRC/CSÉC).​ ​It​ ​supports collaboration​ ​through​ ​the​ ​use​ ​of​ ​interoperable​ ​data​ ​formats​ ​and​ ​interlinking​ ​of​ ​materials,​ ​and​ ​for teams​ ​like​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​provides​ ​invaluable​ ​tools​ ​for​ ​communicating,​ ​tracking​ ​activity,​ ​and workflow.​ ​We​ ​envision​ ​that​ ​as​ ​the​ ​partnership​ ​develops​ ​and​ ​as​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​advances​ ​through production​ ​toward​ ​publication​ ​we​ ​will​ ​take​ ​full​ ​advantage​ ​of​ ​CWRC’s​ ​functionality.​ ​From​ ​the​ ​start​ ​we have​ ​worked​ ​directly​ ​in​ ​CWRC’s​ ​unique​ ​editor,​ ​CWRC-Writer,​ ​which​ ​allows​ ​us​ ​to​ ​edit​ ​REED​ ​London records,​ ​essays,​ ​and​ ​bibliographical​ ​material​ ​using​ ​more​ ​diplomatic​ ​and​ ​critical​ ​TEI​ ​P5​ ​XML​ ​markup and​ ​at​ ​the​ ​same​ ​time​ ​creating​ ​semantic​ ​web​ ​annotations​ ​with​ ​RDF​ ​to​ ​identify,​ ​manage,​ ​and​ ​interlink entities​ ​contained​ ​within.​ ​The​ ​platform​ ​is​ ​also​ ​helping​ ​us​ ​to​ ​develop​ ​a​ ​better​ ​editorial​ ​workflow through​ ​management​ ​of​ ​access​ ​to​ ​data​ ​and​ ​editing​ ​by​ ​role,​ ​team​ ​communications,​ ​tracking​ ​and reporting​ ​of​ ​team​ ​activities.

To​ ​ensure​ ​REED​ ​London’s​ ​stability​ ​and​ ​sustainability​ ​while​ ​extending​ ​its​ ​content​ ​and​ ​value​ ​to​ ​new generations​ ​of​ scholars​ ​the​ ​project​ ​is​ ​being​ ​built​ ​within​ ​the​ ​CWRC​ environment. ​The​ ​scope​ ​of​ ​REED London​ ​would​ ​not​ ​be​ ​possible​ ​without​ ​the​ ​sophisticated,​ ​integrated​ ​platform​ ​that​ ​CWRC​ ​provides. The​ ​focus​ ​of​ ​our​ ​first​ ​year​ ​is​ ​the​ ​design​ ​and​ ​construction​ ​of​ ​a​ ​collaborative​ ​online​ ​production​ ​and publication​ ​environment.​ ​Extending​ ​from​ ​CWRC’s​ ​existing​ ​integrated​ ​content​ ​management​ ​and preservation​ ​system,​ ​the​ ​enhanced​ ​environment​ ​will​ ​accommodate​ ​the​ ​range​ ​of​ ​record​ ​texts, editorial​ ​and​ ​bibliographical​ ​content​ ​from​ ​the​ ​source​ ​materials,​ ​while​ ​a​ ​customized​ ​browser-based CWRC-Writer​ ​platform​ ​will​ ​support​ ​the​ ​team’s​ ​goal​ ​of​ ​developing​ ​online​ ​editorial​ ​collaboration​ ​and review.​ ​The​ ​resulting​ ​streamlined​ ​production​ ​and​ ​publication​ ​environment​ ​will​ ​yield​ ​multi-faceted user-centered​ ​editions,​ ​meaning​ ​that​ ​agile​ ​component​ ​archival​ ​and​ ​editorial​ ​parts​ ​can​ ​cohere according​ ​to​ ​various​ ​criteria​ ​in​ ​response​ ​to​ ​scholars’​ ​research​ ​and​ ​teaching​ ​needs.​ ​In​ ​this​ ​way​ ​we are​ ​establishing​ ​a​ ​platform​ ​that​ ​produces​ ​new​ ​forms​ ​of​ ​“edition”​ ​that​ ​combine​ ​customized​ ​textual​ ​and contextual​ ​materials,​ ​exportable​ ​customized​ ​datasets​ ​and​ ​dynamic​ ​data​ ​visualizations.​ ​It​ ​also​ ​means that​ ​we​ ​will​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​realize​ ​the​ ​promise​ ​of​ ​extending​ ​the​ ​value​ ​of​ ​these​ ​materials​ ​to​ ​colleagues​ ​in fields​ ​beyond​ ​performance​ ​history,​ ​including​ ​political,​ ​religious,​ ​and​ ​cultural​ ​studies,​ ​and​ ​linguistics.

The​ ​partnership​ ​between​ ​CWRC​ ​and​ ​REED​ ​allows​ ​us​ ​to​ ​explore​ ​the​ ​potential​ ​for​ ​new​ ​research applications​ ​associated​ ​with​ ​prosopography,​ ​networks,​ ​and​ ​deep​ ​contextualization.​ ​REED​ ​London’s wealth​ ​of​ ​references​ ​to​ ​very​ ​itinerant​ ​individuals​ ​across​ ​contemporaneous​ ​records​ ​means​ ​that​ ​we will​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​discern​ ​patterns​ ​through​ ​linking,​ ​analysis,​ ​and​ ​visualization.​ ​We​ ​will​ ​leverage​ ​REED’s named​ ​entities​ ​for​ ​linking​ ​people,​ ​places,​ ​events,​ ​and​ ​organizations.​ ​Our​ ​team​ ​has​ ​healthy​ ​debates about​ ​the​ ​problematic​ ​present​ ​of​ ​linked​ ​data.​ ​Brown​ ​has​ ​stated​ ​that,​ ​“linking​ ​up​ ​with​ ​other​ ​data means​ ​connecting​ ​one​ ​ontology​ ​to​ ​another,​ ​and​ ​this​ ​brings​ ​with​ ​it​ ​a​ ​pressure​ ​toward​ ​generalization rather​ ​than​ ​specificity” (Brown,​ ​Simpson,​ ​et.​ ​al.,​ ​2015).​ ​Cummings​ ​has​ ​posited​ ​that​ ​“being​ ​able​ ​to​ ​seamlessly​ ​integrate​ ​highly complex​ ​and​ ​changing​ ​digital​ ​structures​ ​from​ ​a​ ​variety​ ​of​ ​heterogeneous​ ​sources​ ​through interoperable​ ​methods​ ​without​ ​either​ ​significant​ ​conditions​ ​or​ ​intermediary​ ​agents​ ​is​ ​a​ ​deluded fantasy” (Cummings​ ​2014).​ ​Still,​ ​as​ ​a​ ​group​ ​we​ ​hope​ ​that​ ​by​ ​publishing​ ​our​ ​ontologies​ ​as​ ​a​ ​means​ ​of​ ​relating​ ​these entities​ ​as​ ​linked​ ​open​ ​data,​ ​we​ ​will​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​contribute​ ​to​ ​larger​ ​dialogues​ ​about​ ​class​ ​and​ ​society in​ ​Britain​ ​-​ ​certainly​ ​over​ ​the​ ​500​ ​years​ ​covered​ ​by​ ​REED​ ​London,​ ​but​ ​also​ ​about​ ​the​ ​development​ ​of Britain​ ​and​ ​Europe.​ ​CWRC​ ​content​ ​will​ ​be​ ​aggregated​ ​by​ ​the​ ​Advanced​ ​Research​ ​Consortium (ARC),​ ​and​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​will​ ​benefit​ ​from​ ​that​ ​aggregation,​ ​as​ ​we​ ​anticipate​ ​that​ ​people​ ​who​ ​figure in​ ​the​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​corpus,​ ​such​ ​as​ ​Elizabeth​ ​I,​ ​Francis​ ​Bacon,​ ​and​ ​Inigo​ ​Jones​ ​will​ ​be discoverable​ ​by​ ​scholars​ ​searching​ ​for​ ​these​ ​known​ ​figures​ ​across​ ​other​ ​linked​ ​resources.​ ​Perhaps more​ ​important,​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​records​ ​include​ ​extended​ ​references​ ​to​ ​thousands​ ​of​ ​Londoners​ ​who were​ ​in​ ​some​ ​way​ ​connected​ ​to​ ​performance,​ ​but​ ​who​ ​were​ ​not​ ​defined​ ​by​ ​that​ ​connection:​ ​civic officials,​ ​guild​ ​members,​ ​lawyers,​ ​clerks,​ ​priests,​ ​etc.​ ​The​ ​work​ ​of​ ​this​ ​project​ ​thus​ ​holds​ ​as​ ​yet unrealized​ ​value​ ​for​ ​a​ ​much​ ​broader​ ​understanding​ ​of​ ​British​ ​historical​ ​subjects.

Working​ ​within​ ​CWRC’s​ ​platform​ ​and​ ​optimizing​ ​CWRC-Writer​ ​has​ ​allowed​ ​the​ ​core​ ​REED​ ​London team​ ​to​ ​move​ ​efficiently​ ​to​ ​an​ ​advanced​ ​planning​ ​phase.​ ​By​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​2017​ ​we​ ​will​ ​have designed​ ​templates​ ​for​ ​all​ ​record​ ​formats​ ​from​​ Inns of Court​ ​​and​ ​mapped​ ​database​ ​fields​ ​from EMLoT​​ ​to​ ​align​ ​with​ ​the​ ​record​ ​parts​ ​from​ ​the​ ​print​ ​collections.​ ​We​ ​will​ ​have​ ​harvested​ ​a​ ​preliminary “white​ ​list”​ ​of​ ​named​ ​entities​ ​(people,​ ​places,​ ​organizations)​ ​from​ ​all​ ​three​ ​print​ ​​​collection​ ​indexes, P&P,​ ​and​ ​Staffordshire.​ ​Because​ ​of​ ​this​ ​efficient​ ​onramp​ ​we​ ​will​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​focus​ ​in​ ​the​ ​first​ ​half​ ​of 2018​ ​on​ ​ingesting​ ​data,​ ​records,​ ​and​ ​contextual​ ​materials​ ​from​ ​Inns​ ​of​ ​Court​ ​and​ ​EMLoT.​ ​We​ ​will test​ ​the​ ​REED-specific​ ​entity​ ​list​ ​on​ ​ingested​ ​materials.​ ​We​ ​will​ ​also​ ​begin​ ​to​ ​user-test​ ​the​ ​editorial workflow​ ​system​ ​with​ ​the​ ​larger​ ​project​ ​team​ ​of​ ​REED​ ​editors​ ​and​ ​staff.​ ​By​ ​June​ ​2018​ ​we​ ​will​ ​have begun​ ​semantic​ ​tagging​ ​and​ ​experimentation​ ​with​ ​the​ ​CWRC​ ​HuViz​ ​semantic​ ​web​ ​visualization​ ​tool. At​ ​the​ ​DH​ ​2018​ ​conference​ ​we​ ​will​ ​report​ ​on​ ​further​ ​customization​ ​of​ ​the​ ​CWRC​ interface,​ our​ ​plans for​ ​data​ ​discovery​ ​and​ ​research​ ​collaboration,​ ​and​ ​present​ ​preliminary​ ​plans​ ​for​ ​user-responsive editions​ ​and​ ​data​ ​linkage.


Appendix A

Bibliography
  1. Brown, ​S. (2016). ​Tensions​ ​and​ ​Tenets​ ​of​ ​Socialized​ ​Scholarship. D​​ igital​ ​ Scholarship​ ​ in​ ​ the Humanities​, ​31 (2): 283-300.
  2. Brown, S.​, ​Simpson, J.,CWRC​ ​Project​ ​Team, and ​Inke​ ​Project​ ​Team. (2015) ​An​ ​Entity​ ​By​ ​Any​ ​Other Name:​ ​Linked​ ​Open​ ​Data​ ​as​ ​a​ ​Basis​ ​for​ ​a​ ​Decentered,​ ​Dynamic​ ​Scholarly​ ​Publishing​ ​Ecology. Scholarly​ ​ and​ ​ Research​ ​ Communication​​ ​6 (2). http://src-online.ca/index.php/src/article/view/212/409.
  3. Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory ​project​ ​website.​ ​​ http://www.cwrc.ca/en/.
  4. Cummings,​ ​J. (2014).​ ​The​ ​Compromises​ ​and​ ​Flexibility​ ​of​ ​TEI​ ​Customisation.​ In​ ​Mills, C., ​ ​Pidd, M.​ ​and​ Ward, E.​ (eds), Proceedings of the Digital Humanities Congress 2012.​ ​
  5. CWRC:​ About​ ​CWRC/CSÉC​ ​webpage.​ ​​ http://www.cwrc.ca/about/#whatis
  6. CWRC​ ​Humanities​ ​Visualizer​ ​webpage. ​​ http://www.cwrc.ca/uncategorized/huviz-tool/
  7. Early Modern London Theatres​​ ​website.​ ​​ http://www.emlot.kcl.ac.uk
  8. Entity Authority Tool Set​ ​(EATS)​ ​website. ​​ https://eats.readthedocs.io/en/latest/index.html
  9. Hagen, T.,​ ​MacLean, S.,​ ​and​ ​Pasin, M.​ (​2014).​ ​Moving​ ​Early​ ​Modern​ ​Theatre​ ​Online: the Records​ ​of​ ​Early​ ​English​ ​Drama​ ​introduces​ ​the​ ​Early​ ​Modern​ ​London​ ​Theatres. http://static.michelepasin.org/public_articles/2014-REED_McLean-Pasin.pdf
  10. Jakacki, D. (2017)​ ​REED​ ​London:​ ​Humanistic​ ​Roots,​ ​Humanistic​ ​Futures.​ ​Paper​ ​given​ ​at​ ​MLA​ ​2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M67794
  11. Jakacki, D.​ (2016) REED​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Prospect​ ​of​ ​Networked​ ​Data. Paper​ ​given​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Conference​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Canadian Society​ ​for​ ​Renaissance​ ​Studies.​http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6CK59
  12. Liu, A. (2017)​ ​Toward​ ​Critical​ ​Infrastructure​ ​Studies",​ ​paper​ ​given​ ​at​ ​the​ ​University​ ​of​ ​Connecticut.​ ​​ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ojrtVx7iCw
  13. Records​ ​of​ ​Early​ ​English​ ​Drama​ ​project​ ​website. h​​ttp://reed.utoronto.ca
  14. REED​ Patrons and Performances website. https://reed.library.utoronto.ca
  15. REEDStaffordshire​​ ​Collection​ ​website. ​​https://ereed.library.utoronto.ca/collections/staff/